By Real Simple
Updated August 13, 2013
White chairs at outdoor wedding ceremony
Credit: Cavan Images/Getty Images

Once you’ve decided on the vibe you’re going for, hunt for a reception site—and consider venues that aren’t wedding hotspots. Think about public areas like parks and historical landmarks or wide-open spaces owned by someone you know. Eliminate places that have prices and packages for wedding parties, because it’s a near-guarantee you’ll pay a premium.

“Sometimes you have to go off the beaten path to stay on budget,” Cotner says. She and her husband rented out a beautifully rustic B&B in the mountains of Colorado. Not only did that secure a complimentary breakfast for everyone staying there, but also they were able to exchange vows on the property at no extra charge. “They let us get married on their beautiful land for free because they don’t typically do weddings,” she says.